Arizona coach Rodriguez: I think Anu Solomon is poised for a big year
Last season, Anu Solomon became the first freshman quarterback to ever start a season opener for the Arizona Wildcats.
He earned the job after winning an offseason battle with at least four other passers, and went on to throw for 3,793 yards and 28 touchdowns while being intercepted nine times. Solomon also added 301 yards and two scores on the ground in what was a good, if not excellent, season.
The former four-star recruit will once again be Arizona’s starting quarterback in 2015, making him the first QB since Rich Rodriguez took over in Tucson to have a second season under center.
“That is nice,” Rodriguez told the Pac-12 Networks Friday at Pac-12 Media Days. “As hard and as much as I tease about Anu and getting on him, looking back on it, he really had a pretty good year. For a redshirt freshman he was phenomenal.”
Rodriguez added that Solomon has done a great job this offseason and looked good over the summer.
“I think Anu is poised for a big year,” he said. “And I think, obviously any coach will tell you that you can’t have success unless that guy plays pretty well — at any level — and Anu played pretty well last year and we expect him to play well again this year.”
Solomon’s progression would go a long way toward Arizona faring better than the fourth-place prediction bestowed upon them by the Pac-12’s media. His experience level will also help, as receiver David Richards — also speaking to the Pac-12 Networks — noted.
“I think what’s key for him is the experience,” the redshirt senior said. “I think he has a whole year under his belt, I think he’ll be able to go and manage the game better. I think we’ll be able to develop our offense and spread it out a little bit more this year, and I think the coaches have 100 percent confidence in him and I think we’re going to do great things this year with him under our center.”
Arizona averaged 34.5 points per game last season, good enough for fifth in the Pac-12. Solomon was fifth in the conference in yards per game as well as touchdown tosses. So there’s room to improve, and with a an experienced QB running the offense and stars like running back Nick Wilson and receiver Cayleb Jones returning, Rodriguez is more apt to open up playbook even more.
“You can do as much offense as what your experience level at the skill positions can allow you to do, in particularly at quarterback,” he said. “Anu is very intelligent football-wise, so we had enough in. What we have to be careful is we know he can handle that and more, but we don’t want to give too much more and slow us down.
“So anything that we add, if it’s going to slow us down, the number of plays and the execution of it, we won’t put it in there. But the fact is Anu can handle more mentally, and we’re going to be able to do some things not just because of his experience, but the other skill-level guys that are coming back.”